In 2013, Sheryl Sandberg published her best-selling book, Lean In, which encouraged and empowered women to sit at the table, to be an equal in both the workplace and home.
The book outlines, with hundreds of statistics and stories, the fact that that women’s voices in the workplace and at home are ever-decreasing, and that frankly, we need to step up. In politics today, women are a small minority: only 20 of the 100 US senators are women, and 84 of the 535 representatives from the House of Representatives are women… and yet we complain about our current administration not providing enough support for women.
Being female in today’s world is complicated, and yet we expect the overwhelming majority of our government to rally for women’s issues, despite a complete lack of knowledge on what it takes to simply exist.
When Hillary Clinton’s husband, Bill, first ran for governor of Kentucky, she was labeled as an “ardent feminist” for not changing her last name from Rodham. She was criticized for being a working wife, and changed not only her last name, but also her public persona, to mold herself into who the public wanted to see, which made it easier for the public to embrace her as an individual. Despite having been successful within her own career (including but certainly not limited to earning a place as a partner in a law firm), she was expected by the public and the media to give up who she was to make her husband “look good” to win the place of governor and then President. And yet she lost the most recent presidential election to a man who has spent the majority of the last few months on a golf course.
The problem is that we, as women, have such a small minority of people representing us, so this is it.
We need to take action and fight for ourselves, because if we don’t do it, who will? We need to work to achieve more for ourselves and for the world. Fight not only for yourself, but for others. Lean in, and you can help change the world.
Here are ten ways you can lean in today, to help make the world a better place for women:
1. Strive for more. Work hard, keep your focus, and strive for that promotion. Ignore the “what if” in the back of your mind. What if you get married? What if you have kids? You can climb that mountain when you get there.
2. Network. Go to events, meet people, exchange information, and connect on LinkedIn. Expand your social circle and career.
3. Start a blog, brand, Twitter following… just get your voice out there. By expressing your voice, you’re joining in on the conversation across the country… and across the world.
4. Join local politics. Every city has a monthly meeting to discuss what’s happening in town, as well as the budget. Get involved in the PTA if you have kids, and learn what’s happening in their school. Be a part of the change.
5. Donate to local food banks. There’s at least one somewhere near you. But more specifically, call ahead to see if they take feminine hygiene products; these are so important for women, and yet so many women within our own country don’t have access to a ready supply of them.
6. Speak up at meetings or with family. If someone says something with which you disagree, you don’t have to nod and let it happen, “just because they’re family” or because eventually they’ll use your idea anyway. That’s bullshit and you know it.
7. Dream big. I never really thought much about my own future; I always just assumed that my life ended with having kids. I haven’t had them yet, but I’ve learned that I need to strive for more for myself. Sure, kids are great and will happen, but I can have dreams and goals of my own; my kids will need to see that example from both me and their dad.
8. Take time for yourself. It’s easy to overwork yourself when trying to attain your goals, but if you don’t sit back to smell the flowers, you won’t be able to enjoy the rewards.
9. Share work equally with your partner—housework or taking care of pets/kids, that is. Why would it be fair that one partner would have to do more work than the other when both are home and available? Both went to work all day in some way, shape or form, whether that’s being a stay-at-home parent or working in an office.
10. Ask for more—salary-wise. Be willing and able to negotiate your salary when being offered a job or promotion. Statistically, men are more likely than women to negotiate and attain a higher salary than offered. Do your research and learn to negotiate.
As Sheryl Sandberg famously states in her first TEDTalk, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”